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John’s Journal: Gymnastics Family Tradition Continues In Melrose

Josie Eveslage Is Second Generation To Compete At State

Posted: Saturday, February 24, 2024 - 4:51 PM


Sherry and Josie Eveslage of Melrose.


Josie Eveslage competing on beam.

When Melrose High School ninth-grader Jodie Eveslage competed in the Class A state gymnastics meet this weekend at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, it was the continuation of a family tradition.

The fans in the stands included Jodie’s mother, Sherry (Blommel) Eveslage, who was a multiple state medalist, a three-time floor exercise champion and set the still-standing Class A state championship record on the floor exercise 31 years ago. Sherry is a 1996 Melrose grad, as is her husband, Mike.

“It kind of gives me warm, happy, fuzzy feelings,” Sherry said. “Gymnastics is a demanding sport, it’s hard, it’s physically and mentally challenging. To show at such a young age she’s able to handle that, it lets me know she’s talented for her age, and mentally she can handle it. It’s so fun to watch as a mom. I’m probably more nervous than she is.”

A year ago Josie qualified for state on beam, where she placed 36th among 48 qualifiers. She qualified this year on vault, and in Saturday’s individual competition she placed 10th. The Melrose team also qualified for state, finishing fourth Friday. It was the team’s first trip to state since 2017 and their tournament-leading 27th time overall. Melrose won team state titles in 1994, 1995, 2012 and 2014.

“It’s so great to have the team here, it’s awesome, it feels amazing,” Josie said.

Sherry’s floor record is 9.80. In Friday’s team competition Josie had a score of 9.20 on the floor, matching the scores of teammates Celia Schoenberg and Hannah Hoppe. The winning score on the floor during Saturday’s individual portion of the Class A meet was a 9.625 by Worthington senior Hali Bullerman.

Sherry is a former gymnastics coach at Paynesville and also coached in Albany before stepping away a few years ago to watch her kids, Josie and 11th-grader Grant, in their activities.

Grant competed in a section swimming and diving meet (he’s a swimmer) over the weekend in Alexandria, so Sherry and Mike departed St. Paul quickly Friday to make the two-hour drive to watch Grant. With that meet continuing on Saturday, Sherry watched Josie while Mike was in Alexandria to watch Grant (who qualified for state in four events).

“We have to divide and conquer sometimes,” Mike said.

Athletics run in the family. Mike played baseball and wrestled in high school, while Sherry also competed in track and field. Mike is a former softball coach at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.

As parents who are well aware of the wear and tear of gymnastics training, Sherry and Mike weren’t sure they wanted Josie to pursue the sport. She also competes as a diver (qualifying for state last year) and is a track and field athlete.

I can chuckle about this now,” Sherry said. “Gymnastics can ruin your body. I told my husband if we have a girl we’re never putting her in gymnastics. By the time Josie hit age 3 she was crawling over stuff in places where she shouldn’t be. That’s when we started her in rec classes.”

--MSHSL senior content creator John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

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